Robin Dale Ford
began life across the Pacific in Sendai, Japan, and before her
childhood career as an Army brat was over, she had called eleven
very different places “home.” Her father was a closet boogie-woogie
piano player, and when Robin could finally reach the piano keys,
he taught her to hold down bass lines while he soloed over top.
She continued playing piano from Clementi to Gershwin, claiming
that’s what kept her sane through the high school years. But insanity
did creep in when she became obsessed with the sound of the banjo.
One year she is saying that she hated anything Country, and then
the next, she is driving the family station wagon around Virginia
to any Bluegrass or Old-Time festival she can find...just to hear
someone play that 5-string. She considers that, yes, she
may have been abducted by Hillbilly aliens, but so what.
When she finally headed out on her own, her wandering soon took
her back to Alaska (“home” #9). En route she found a sweet,
old, Vega banjo, and when she landed in Fairbanks she fell in
with a notorious Old-Time stringband, the Sidewinders. She
would play banjo with them for six years, performing in bars and
at festivals, and touring with Dr. Ogstad’s Traveling Medicine
Show. She left that band, put down the banjo and picked
up a bass, playing a stand-up and singing for local Bluegrass
band, Tanana Grass. She soon switched to electric bass and
joined the much-loved “dawg grass” quintet, the Rhythm Romancers,
whose all-instrumental album, Romantics is an Alaskan classic.
She eventually played bass in countless “roots rock” bands, and
during these years produced her first solo album of original songs,
State of Grace, called “a pop gem” by reviewers.
She turned once more to the banjo and began using it as accompaniment
for more modern songs and her own originals creating a refreshing
sound and presentation. In 1995, she released the CD "Down
in My Heart," a hauntingly beautiful collection of songs
presented with only solo banjo and voice.
Somewhere along this crazy musical path she met her life partner,
Fairbanks home-boy, Pat Fitzgerald.
They share an incredible passion for songwriting and together
formed 10th Planet Records which is their record label and also
the name of their recording studio located in a log cabin on their
ten acres outside of Fairbanks, They have combined their
solo acts for tours from Alaska to Arizona and across Cananda,
and when in Fairbanks they play their own hybrid of original music
they like to call “stringband rock” with a band called DANG!
This year Robin continues to promote her latest CD “ain’t
that skippin’ & flyin’,” which has been introducing her
to many new fans around this country and others. Mike Flynn,
host of the popular Public Radio show, “Folk Sampler” has played
songs from the CD on many of his shows this year, saying, “I have
fallen in love with [her] music and it is a pleasure to play it
on the air.” One of the song’s “Where I’m Bound,” is included
on The Yukon Collection Vol. II from Caribou Records, and was
used as the soundtrack for a video by the Yukon Tourism Board.
Robin and her banjo have had the pleasure of opening for such
acts as Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman, Dar Williams, Iris Dement,
Loudon Wainwright, Carrie Newcomer, Janis Ian, Don McLean, Kevin
Welch, Bill Staines, The Doug Dillard Band with Ginger Boatwright,
Libby Roderick, Tim O’Brien and Mike Marshall & Darol Anger.
For bookings, contact 10th
Planet Records, P.O. Box 10114, Fairbanks, Alaska 99710.